Connecticut’s long-term care system ranked 11th in U.S.

Connecticut’s long-term services and supports for seniors and people with disabilities ranked 11th in the nation in a scorecard of states released Thursday by The Commonwealth Fund and The SCAN Foundation.

Connecticut led the nation in limiting staff turnover in nursing homes; the state’s 18.7 percent turnover rate less than half the median rate of all states, 46.9 percent. But the state fell short on other measures, including being ranked 48th in the country in the affordability of nursing home care, which was nearly 3 ½ times the median household income for people 65 and older.

The report noted that even the highest-performing states had room to improve. In Connecticut, AARP State Director Brenda Kelley cited the need to give people more choice in the type of setting for them to receive long-term care and the types of services they receive.

“In Connecticut, our long-term care system is heavily skewed toward institutional care, while if given a choice, most people would prefer to receive less costly services that allow them to stay in their own homes and communities,” she said.

Connecticut ranked among the lower half of states on some measures related to a person’s choice of setting and provider, including the percentage of Medicaid and state spending on long-term supports and services that went to home and community-based services in 2009, the percentage of new Medicaid long-term care users who first received services in the community in 2007, and the percent of nursing home residents with low care needs in 2007. But the state ranked higher on the tools and programs available to facilitate consumer choice and on the number of home health and personal care aides per 1,000 residents aged 65 and older in 2009.

The state is moving to change the balance of its long-term care system, with plans to move 5,200 people out of nursing homes in the next five years through the Money Follows the Person program. Still, some advocates for seniors and people with disabilities say there are not enough options for seniors or people with disabilities to receive home care services so they can stay out of institutions.

The report noted that it’s hard to measure some key concerns–including the availability of housing with services, accessible transportation, respite care funding and community integration for people with disabilities–because data is limited.